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The Year in Review
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I'm doing this a couple of days earlier than usual, because I have time now, and I don't anything momentous will happen in the next two days.

2009. Most crap-ass year of my adult life. (Possibly of my whole life.) People I care about (and people close to people I care about) died. We've been poor all year -- in the first part of the year we were slammed by a combination of taxes and hospital bills which made it impossible for me to attend a writing workshop, made us cancel our trip to Wiscon (first one we've missed since we started going in 2001), etc. We were just barely getting our heads above water again when my wife got her hours cut at work, and soon after she was laid off from her job, plunging us into a financial panic that continues... and indeed accelerates, as our savings dwindle. My urban fantasy series got dropped by my publisher, and I couldn't sell any other novels (there are a couple sort-of exceptions, to be detailed below). Some of my best friends moved away. I didn't get any stories in Year's Best anthologies for the first time in ages. (Admittedly, I didn't publish much short fiction last year, but still.)

Thing is, the end of 2008 sucked, too, so this has been well over a year of serious anxiety. I said in my last year-in-review that "I've probably had more anxiety, stress, and worry this year than in the past several years combined, and a lot of that anxiety is ongoing." Whaddya know! That still stands.

But it's not all doom-and-gloom-and-sturm-and-drang. The good things are also plentiful, and indeed, if not for my wife being laid off and the subsequent financial nightmare, I'd call this a good year, even without novel sales. Our son is healthy, and happy, and developing just as he should, and even his glaucoma seems to be in good shape -- he didn't need surgery this year (though he went under anesthesia for exams), which is a huge relief. We took our son camping for the first time ever, on a trip with some of the aforementioned dear friends who moved away, and those are memories I'll treasure for a long time. We went to World Fantasy (got some surprise money to pay for the hotel room, and it was driving distance), so that was fun. I visited my friends Greg and Lisa in San Diego. Somebody named a yarn pattern after my novel Poison Sleep. Blood Engines was given away as a free Kindle e-book, and got me a ton of new fans. I found out Felicia Day (one of the very few celebrities I have a crush on) has read and liked a couple of my books. I read a ton of awesome books and cooked some awesome meals and had some awesome dinners and celebrated the successes of some awesome friends. See? Good stuff.

In more pure writerly accomplishments: My collaboration with Nick Mamatas, "The Dude Who Collected Lovecraft", was a Stoker finalist.

I finished my first ever anthology, a big fat reprint volume of stories about The Adversary called Sympathy for the Devil, and delivered it to Night Shade Books just a little bit ago.

Got another anthology gig, doing fiction editing for future sex antho The Naked Singularity, which doesn't need to be delivered for a few months yet.

Sold Blood Engines and Poison Sleep to Germany. The Marla novels were optioned by an independent producer, so the Hollywood thing continues to be something I can daydream about.

I serialized Marla Mason novel Bone Shop on my website, making enough money in donations to pay for groceries and health insurance for many months. I was overwhelmed by the generosity of my friends and fans; thank you all. I also did a print version for Lulu.com, and there's a glimmering of a chance of a possibility that there may be a print version coming from a small press in the future, though it's in the very preliminary "Hey, this could be cool" stage of discussion at this point, and it may not come to pass.

Wrote a rather awesome synopsis-and-sample-chapter package for my agent to shop around. Wrote another that's waiting in the wings to go out in the eventuality that the first one doesn't get work. Also revised my middle grade science fantasy adventure novel, which is also going the rounds. It's tough times in the novel-selling business, so the lack of bites so far, while disheartening, isn't totally demoralizing. Lots of good books are having a hard time finding homes.

Got a gig doing a pseudonymous high-concept work-for-hire novel that's very fun, and occupied much of the last two months of 2009 (during which I wrote close to 50,000 words on the project).

I also got a shot at writing a storyline for a video game; they didn't end up choosing me for the project, but paid me several hundred bucks... just because, as far as I can tell. And since they ended up shelving the project, I may have gotten more money than the person they did hire. I auditioned for another work-for-hire project that fizzled without providing any bonus money, alas. But even that was good practice in generating copy at high speed.

Enough reminiscence. Some 2009 stats:

Number of words written: about a quarter of a million. (I have some more writing ahead of me before year's end, so I can't be exact, but at least 250K.) That includes freelance non-fiction, novels, and stories. I don't count e-mails, blog posts, etc, just work that is (theoretically) going to be sold. It's about as many words as I wrote last year, and the year before, and the year before that. I may have achieved my comfortable cruising speed.

Stories written (all sold!): "Troublesolving" (to Subterranean), "Another End of the Empire" (to Strange Horizons), "A Programmatic Approach to Perfect Happiness" (to Futurismic), "Silver Linings" (to Tor.com), "Little Better than a Beast" (A Marla Mason story for an occult detective anthology, forthcoming), and "Our Stars, Our Selves" (for the Bordertown revival anthology, forthcoming). I'm working on another story now, but doubt I'll finish it by year's end.

Stories that came out this year that I wrote, you know, earlier: "Over There" on Intergalactic Medicine Show; "Unexpected Outcomes" in Interzone; "Her Voice in a Bottle" at Subterranean; an original short (written in the form of a monologue), "Origin Story," at Escape Pod; some original flash fiction pieces to Podcastle; also a slew of reprints to various podcast publications; and some foreign sales.

Novels written: Bone Shop (a short novel), and the first half of a work-for-hire book.

Books read: 177, most of those mystery/crime novels, which I read fast. Since last year I read only 39 books, this is what you might call a small improvement. I honestly don't know where I found the time -- the kid is a bit more tolerant of people reading on the couch while he plays on the floor nearby, so that helped. Almost all those books came from the library, which has become a big part of my life this year.

And that's it! May next year be better than this one was.



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